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Bob Seger -- Prince was "a gift to music"

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Bob Seger and the late Prince shared some strong connections during the past 35 years or so.

The two were both part of the Special Olympics in 1992, including a TV special/concert in Prince's home town of Minneapolis. A dozen years later they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the same time.

So Seger was understandably stunned and saddened by the news of Prince's death on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 57.

"It's shocking, and so sad," Seger, 70, said by phone from his home near West Bloomfield. "Way, way too young. He was so immensely talented. It's unusual to have somebody be that talented on so many instruments and yet still be a really good producer, songwriter, arranger...everything."

Seger didn't know who Prince was when some of his road crew members called him in 1981 to recommend he see Prince on Dec. 4, 1981 at Joe Louis Arena during his Controversy Tour. "They said, 'Bob, you've got to come see this guy. You'll love him, 'cause we know how much you love James Brown,'" Seger recalled. "I was like, 'OK, I'm in.' I went down, and he was sensational. He was outstanding. I was completely stunned. I loved his music -- the funk the grooves. It was just a great, great show. I left saying, 'Omigod, I'm gonna call everybody I know -- You've got to see this guy!'"

Seger met Prince several times over the years, particularly in Los Angeles when the Detroit rocker was living there. "I'd see him in clubs a lot in L.A. and got to know him a little bit -- as much as you could know him," Seger recalled. "He was just a very quiet guy; It was like putting teeth to get anything out of him. I did most of the talking; He mostly just listened and asked questions. I just thought he was really shy."

At the Rock Hall induction, however, Prince "was real gracious. I was sitting there with Springsteen and Jackson (Browne) and he came in and was very open and talkative -- unlike how he usually is."

Seger says he still favors "Purple Rain" -- the song, album and movie -- and likes to extol Prince's virtues to others, including his son Cole. "My son loves (Trent) Reznor. I said, 'Before there was Reznor, there was Prince, a guy playing everything, producing, writing," Seger said. "I'm just glad he was around. He was a gift to music."

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